The Jones Street way: Spend more on stuff people don’t want and don’t need

momoneyWe get word today that a House committee — mostly Republicans, mind you — have endorsed the idea of throwing more money at a liberal dream: 

[…] Separate legislation would seek to repeal a provision in last September’s state budget law that would cap state funds for light-rail projects at $500,000. The provision appeared to have put a Durham-Chapel Hill rail project in jeopardy. The House inserted a similar repeal proposal into a tax cleanup bill in the final days of last year’s session and that sits in a Senate committee. […] 

You’ve got to *LOVE* the responsiveness these guys and gals have to their donors.  *Apparently, this fiscal restraint silliness was hurting some contributors’ bottom lines.* 

Pat McCrory LOOOOOOOOOOVES light rail.  He worked with Democrats, over the objections of conservatives, in Charlotte to implement a massive expensive expansion of light rail throughout the area. (John Locke and Civitas used to HATE the idea of government funded light rail. Now that their money-man Art Pope is swooning over McCrory, we won’t hear a peep from them on the subject.) 

How is the light rail thing working out in Charlotte? Let’s see: moneywhirl

[…] Transit ridership has declined on light rail and buses this year, but the Charlotte Area Transit System is investigating whether passengers are being properly counted.

CATS said current fare revenue is at or above levels in 2014, even though ridership has declined , according to the transit system’s reports.[…]

I’m sure fare increases during that time period and creative accounting regarding overhead can explain the fare revenue stability.   MORE: 

[…] In September, ridership was down 5.6 percent compared with the same month a year earlier.

Lynx Blue Line ridership was down 7.5 percent. Ridership on regional express buses, which bring commuters from neighboring counties, was down 13.2 percent.

The drop in ridership coincided with a drop in gas prices.[…]

A-ha.  It’s a cost-benefit decision.  When government types screw with the economy so that average Americans pull less out of their own pockets to ride public transportation than they do to drive their own cars, stuff like light rail looks good.  Most people prefer the control they have in driving their own vehicle.  They can pick their route and their stops when they drive.  download (4)

Jack up those gas prices.  Keep pouring tax money into rail.  That’s the way to keep people’s transportation decisions in the hands of government. So, instead of admitting the shortcomings of the light rail system, the bureaucrats come up with THIS: 

[…] But because fare revenue is stable, CATS thinks people may still be riding, but not being counted.

CATS staff believes the problem is technology. CATS said the fare collection system is 17-years-old, and the transit system often receives complaints about fare boxes that aren’t working.

Okay, so HOW do we know the revenue numbers are accurate if there is little to no confidence in the passenger count system?

[…] Olaf Kinard, director of marketing and communications for CATS, said the transit system is preparing to replace all of the fare boxes. That could cost $8 million.

“A lot of times we replace a bus, and the fare box on the new bus is the fare box from the old bus,” Kinard said. “We have needed to replace them.”

CATS believes that the boxes are not keeping an accurate tally of riders.

“If ridership numbers were actually declining, it would follow that fare revenue would also decline,” CATS chief executive John Lewis said during the October meeting of the Metropolitan Transit Commission, which is the governing body for CATS. images (3)

“Riders may not be counted accurately or at all, or may be riding without paying a fare,” said Lewis, according to a city summary of the meeting.

The Lynx Blue Line counts passengers with an automated system that creates a tally of when people get on the train.[…]

Keeping a government project afloat is no reason for throwing more money at it. (The sun will rise AND set.  The birds will still sing. If the Durham-Chapel Hill light rail project does not come to fruition.)

With the state of our economy, fiscal restraint is a MUST.  It’s a shame to see the alleged conservative party throwing that out the window.